British woman decapitated in random supermarket attack

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A British woman was attacked and beheaded by a man wielding a knife in a shop in Tenerife yesterday.

Witnesses said the man walked into a Chinese supermarket in the popular resort town of Los Cristianos, picked up a knife and stabbed and beheaded the 62-year-old woman, believed to be an expat living on the island.

A witness told local Spanish radio he had seen the man walking down the street holding the severed head before being overpowered by security guards.

"I was parking outside the supermarket and saw this man running out with something bloody in his hands," he said. "It was a head. He had it in his hands. The security guards chased him and threw him to the floor and overpowered him."

The witness said the head rolled along the ground as the suspect was apprehended. The attack happened at 10.30am yesterday.

A woman who works in an estate agent near the murder scene drove past shortly after the killing. The woman, who did not want to be named, said: "It is horrific. I drove by about 10 minutes later and there were lots of crowds about. We heard about it on the local news and from the mayor speaking on radio and television."

The woman added: "This is a real one-off. We have the occasional robbery and there were a few murders linked to time-share a few years ago – it's very sporadic. But this horrific, senseless violence hasn't been known here before."

A local official said the man appeared to choose his victim at random. Witnesses said he entered the Chinese supermarket in Valdes Shopping Centre and attacked the woman without saying a word.

"Apparently this gentleman without any motive or any reason entered the shop and then cut this woman's neck and took the head outside," said local councillor Manuel Reveron.

Los Cristianos is a large resort town in Southern Tenerife, popular with British holidaymakers and expats. It is the most-developed part of Arona.